Acts Chapter 7 presents us with a critical moment in the early Church. In verses 1-2, Stephen is called upon to defend himself before the Sanhedrin, who have charged him with blasphemy against Moses and God. Stephen boldly proclaims that he sees a vision in which Jesus stands at the right hand of God.
In verse 8, Stephen speaks further of Jesus, calling Him "Lord" and "God of glory." An uproar follows this among the members of the Sanhedrin as they eventually decide to stone Stephen to death.
In verses 12-16, we see a defining moment for Saul (later known as Paul). At this point, Saul has not yet been converted to Christianity and is standing with those who condemned Stephen, so we can assume that he is complicit in this act of violence against an innocent man.
What does this passage tell us about how God works?
How does it challenge our understanding of justice?
What else can we learn from these verses?
This passage speaks to the power of faith and how that faith can be used as a source of strength even in the face of adversity and persecution. Despite being surrounded by people determined to kill him, Stephen can still proclaim his faith in Jesus as Lord and God of glory.
This challenges our often human-centered view of justice, as God does not always act in ways that may seem fair to us. Instead, God works through complex and challenging circumstances to bring redemption and the greater good.
The passage also encourages us to seek faith-based strength when confronted with difficult or unjust situations. Through his example, Stephen reminds us that the power to persevere and remain faithful despite opposition comes from a relationship with God. He reminds us that our faith can be a source of strength, courage, and hope even when all odds are against us.
In addition to its encouragement regarding faith-based strength, the passage also speaks to the power of forgiveness. The fact that Stephen was able to forgive his murderer is a powerful reminder that we can all find it in ourselves to forgive, even when the situation seems impossible. Forgiveness can be difficult, but Stephen's story reveals how its rewards are often worth the effort.
Finally, this passage speaks to our need to persevere in hardship. Stephen's example shows us that even in times of great difficulty, we can remain faithful and be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve our goals. This is a powerful reminder that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
Ultimately, this passage from the Bible serves as an inspirational reminder that, with the strength of our convictions, we can overcome any obstacle. Stephen shows us that by believing in ourselves and having faith in God, we can find peace and joy even amidst immense suffering. His story is a testament to the power of forgiveness, resilience, and hope within us all.
No matter how difficult the journey may be, we can strive to be our best selves and remain true to our values. In this way, Stephen serves as a shining example of what it means to live with courage, grace, and perseverance.